Excellent column by Mark Di Ionno in today’s Star-Ledger on “‘The Sopranos and Stereotypes, Perfect Together’” (nice little play on the famous Jersey tourism ad campaign of 80s in which Gov. Thomas Kean delivered the punch line in his finest over-the-top boarding school dialect). The local debate over past eight years on representations of ethnicity and violence on the show has been civil, enlightening and generally fine example of shared public discourse.
The Ledger (best paper nobody outside NJ ever heard of) also has tremendous piece on Rev. DeForest ‘Buster’ Soaries Jr., Central Jersey minister that brokered meeting between the I-Man and players and coaches from Rutgers women’s basketball team. Jim Gandolfini and Rev. Soaries both went to Rutgers (as did Di Ionno who was a friend of the actor’s: I didn’t know him but saw Gandolfini often in his role as bouncer at the Rusty Screw Tavern back in the day when institutions of higher learning doubled in the saloon business): put these stories together you get a good sense of range of issues that have found Italian and African-Americans sometimes linked sometimes divided in context of mass-cultural/ethnic politics.